Are you or someone in your household expecting and planning to breastfeed, currently breastfeeding, or interested in breastfeeding in the future? As you explore questions about breastfeeding, think about what your health insurance might cover. If you’re a benefit-eligible MSU employee, MSU HR put together some tips and reminders to help.
MSU’s employee plans all cover breastfeeding supplies to some extent – that’s Community Blue, Blue Care Network (BCN) and the Consumer Driven Health Plan with the Health Savings Account. The one exception to this is if you have BCN and are trying to get equipment from a provider who doesn’t have a contract with BCN, you’ll have to cover that yourself.
Steps to get breastfeeding supplies
In health care lingo, breastfeeding supplies are part of what’s referred to as “Durable Medical Equipment.” Typically, breastfeeding supplies include the pump package, so the pump and whatever typically comes with it (breast milk storage bags, bottles, nipples, etc.). What comes with the kit depends on which brand is offered. How do you know?
Step One: Contact your health care provider and ask for the name and contact info for a durable medical equipment provider located near you. In addition to a store you can visit in-person, sometimes you can get the contact info for a mail order service.
Step Two: Contact the durable medical equipment provider to find out which brand(s) they carry. Many providers only carry one brand, so this may help you decide where you want to go to get your pump.
Step Three: Get a prescription. For breastfeeding supplies? You got it! You can ask your OB-GYN or physician to write this prescription. They can even fax it right to the equipment provider you’ve selected or you can take it in-person.
- If you have a pump you’ve used before, your health insurance isn’t going to cover getting the replacement parts. Replacement parts are eligible expenses under a flexible spending account (FSA) (see more info below). If your pump no longer works, most health insurance providers will cover a new breast pump kit after a certain period (example: BCN covers a new pump after 24 months).
- Cleaning supplies for the pump or pump parts are not covered.
- Extra bags, bottles, nipples, etc. are not covered, only those that already come with the pump.
MSU does offer some additional resources related to breastfeeding you may find helpful.
Flexible spending accounts (FSA)
The health care FSA through WageWorks can be used for some breastfeeding expenses including breast pumps, pump supplies and breastfeeding classes. Even though you’re still picking up the cost of these expenses, by using the health care FSA, the money is pre-tax, which means you’re saving an average of 30%. Make it even easier by using the FSA Store online at fsastore.com for everything from baby monitors to nursing pads and baby thermometers. Learn more about FSAs on the HR website.
Chances are if you’re thinking about breastfeeding, you’re planning on a life change or have already experienced one. Don’t forget these steps for making changes to your benefits.
The MSU WorkLife Office is a great breastfeeding resource for employees. They offer classes, support, a breastfeeding room location map, and more. Check out these resources on the WorkLife website.
Growing a family comes with a lot to plan for, and breastfeeding can be at the top of that list. Hopefully, these tips and hints can help you and your family navigate through that journey a little easier.